CPI (M) seeks to shed its “anti-religion” image
Counter Oppn. campaign, the party takes a pragmatic approach to religion while being rooted in secular values
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has decided to dispel opposition propaganda that it is hostile to religion. The party hopes to push back the increasingly vehement campaign it is waging against Ayyappa’s followers.
Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attempted to exploit the Sabarimala issue in anti-CPI (M) votes. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPI (M) Secretary of State A. Vijayaraghavan said the government would include “everyone” once the Supreme Court finishes reviewing its 2018 majority decision allowing women of all ages to worship at Ayyappa temple.
On Sunday, MV Govindan, a member of the central committee of the CPI (M), sought to give an ideological veneer to the “modified” influence of the party on Sabarimala.
He said the Marxist theory of dialectical materialism held that wealth, land, class, labor, and socio-economic realities trigger social conflict rather than the needs of the mind and spirit.
However, in India the opposite was true. Indian society barely qualified as bourgeois democracy.
He seemed mired in medieval values anchored to religious beliefs. Therefore, a purely theoretical Marxist approach to questions of faith might not gain ground within the largely traditionalist framework.
So, while remaining firmly secular, the CPI (M) should take a pragmatic approach to religion, he said.
Such common ground is essential, especially when the BJP seeks to brazenly exploit the Hindu faith to improve its electoral prospects in Kerala.
BJP state president K. Surendran has vowed to end government control over the Devaswoms if he is elected to power. Devotees administered the temples and managed their vast possessions. The Congress also made Sabarimala the central board of the elections.
Mr. Govindan’s speech drew sharp criticism from Congress. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chairman Mullappally Ramachandran equated him with RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat. The CPI (M) had abandoned its communist values and adopted a Hindu nationalist political line, he said.
Bidding to demonize
Its attempt to demonize the IUML as an Islamist organization was part of the change in course of the CPI (M). Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the CPI (M) should apologize for trampling the faith of Ayyappa devotees. The party wondered if the wave of opposition from Ayyappa worshipers would reverse its bid for a second run in power.